Easy to say, but do we do this regularly?
Deep diaphragmatic breathing, using your whole diaphragm, improves attention, mood and reduces stress. It is an important mind-body habit that is central to meditation and many disciplines of martial arts. It can also reduce anxiety, depression and work burnout through relaxation and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Studies have shown deep breathing exercises have also been correlated with enhanced cognitive performance, including memory and executive functions. Practise by doing the following:
- Sit comfortably in an upright posture – place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage to feel the diaphragm move
- Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand; keep your hand on your chest as still
- Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips; again keep your upper chest must remain as still as possible.
Relaxing muscles can reduce stress and anxiety. One method is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) which takes 20 mins per day and involves the following steps:
- Find a quiet place with dim lighting and regular time to relax (not after heavy meals). Close your eyes and shut out distractions
- Wear comfortable clothes and take off shoes, glasses, jewelry, etc. Make a decision not to worry about anything and care for yourself.
- Become detached – don’t try to relax or control your body or thoughts. If your mind wanders, don’t worry, just bring it back to your 5 senses
- Tense and relax progressive muscle groups around your body for 10 seconds of tensing, and 20 second of relaxing at a time. Enjoy limpness and absorb the sensations
- Cycle through forehead, neck, shoulders, hands and forearms on both sides, abdominal wall, legs and feet on both sides.
Now when someones says to chill out, you’ll know what to do!